July 22, 2016

"The Kids Need a Bed Tonight"*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


Three days a week, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m they come and they wait. Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday they come just to get a drop of reprieve from the outreach center; a bus pass to the VA or to get to a job interview, a bag of groceries, a voucher to get used clothes at the thrift store, maybe a small amount of money to help pay an overdue utility bill, and sometimes just to talk to someone, anyone who will listen.

The homeless, the disabled, the sick, the unemployed, the downtrodden, the marginalized, addicts and ex-cons just out of the "big-house" all stop by. All are different, yet all are living with one common denominator running their lives---survival.

It was 8:30 a.m. and the sun was already doing its thing, slowly roasting the folks as they waited patiently for the doors to open, some having been there since 7 a.m. Florida, ah yes, palm trees, blue skies and beaches--just another day in paradise.

Andre and Jessica had made the three mile walk to the St. Vincent de Paul outreach office and had arrived at 8 a.m. They signed in and were #11 on the list. At 10:15 a man opened the door and called their name. As they approached he smiled and said, "Hi folks, c'mon in. Sorry it took so long. How you guys doing today?"


He knew how they were doing and they knew that he knew but his friendly, unbureaucratic manner quickly put them at ease. "Okay, have a seat. I'm Joe. At least it's cool in here, right?"

They sat, sighed and let the cool A/C soak into their overheated bodies. They said nothing.

"Well now," Joe said looking straight at them, "I can see you have some heavy duty stuff going on. I hope we can help. So, what exactly is happening?"

They were a mixed race couple and they could feel inside themselves that whoever this man was it did not matter at all. You can just sense some things. They loosened up. Andre began to speak and tears quickly fell from Jessica's eyes. "Look, man, we got two kids, six and eight years old, and we're getting kicked out of our place at 11 a.m. if we don't come up with $58.00, and we ain't got a dime."

"Where are the kids now?" Joe asked.

“With a neighbor. Look, we don't care so much about us but the kids need a bed tonight, know what I mean?"

"I do Andre, I do. And for what it's worth, you guys need a bed too. Where you staying?"

"Barkley Motel over on---"

"Oh yeah, I know the place well. Here's the thing, Andre, we don't pay rent monies from this office. We just don't have the funds. But let me make a call."

Joe picked up the phone and pushed the numbers for the Barkley. He knew them by heart. He smiled kindly at them and, as he waited for an answer, twirled his finger in the air as if to say, "C'mon--pick up already".

After several moments went by he said, "Hello, hey Sam, this is Joe over at the St. Vincent de Paul outreach office. I have a couple here, Andre and Jessica-----What? What are you talking about? You have to be kidding me. They have until 11:00 a.m. Look Sam, these folks need that room now--not a new one tomorrow. You should have called me. Now, just “unrent” their room. I’ll be over myself about 12:15."

Andre's and Jessica's hopes had risen and fallen in a matter of moments. Andre, a big man, said, "Man, what we gonna do?"

Joe asked, "What happens after tomorrow? Getting through today is almost like a stay of execution."

"No, no, tomorrow I know I can get some work. Just gotta get through today. Plus, we got a place lined up for next week. Her mom worked it out. She's up in Jersey and she knew someone and, anyway, come Saturday we'll be okay. She’s even sending bus tickets for the greyhound over on 9th St. We leave Saturday afternoon. Next week is 4th of July and we plan on being in Jersey and celebrating. We just gotta get through till Saturday."

"No kidding, Andre. That's awesome. But today is only Wednesday. Well, we can't have the kids without beds tonight….and tomorrow too. Now, here is a food voucher. Go across the street to the pantry and get some groceries. Then bring them home with you."

"They ain't been too nice to us over at the motel. And if I ain’t got the $58.00 they won’t let us in."

"Don't you worry about that. Trust me, okay. You go back there, everything will be all right."

It was almost 1 p.m. when they arrived back at the motel. They walked to the front desk  and Sam, the manager, smiled at them. "Okay, I have good news for you. You're paid up through Saturday."

Jessica almost collapsed from relief. Andre held her up and a happy tear rolled down his cheek.

Back at the St. Vincent De Paul office Joe finished up the paperwork from the 23 clients he had served that day. As he filed Andre and Jessica’s sheet into the folder, he held it up for a moment, looked at it and smiled. And a well-deserved smile it was.

* An edited version of this appeared in Aleteia on July 2, 2016


                             ©  Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

July 9, 2016

A "Gangbanger"s Journey from Hoodlum to Saint*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The following is true. And even though it may have happened 700 years ago, in many ways people then were like people now. When it comes to our wants,  needs and emotions nothing has changed. And when it comes to family love; especially when it comes to family love coupled with prayer, that often makes for an unbreakable bond for all eternity.

Arnold Armengol was a member of the Spanish hierarchy. His son, Peter, in spite of being given the finest education and upbringing, rejected all of that and left home. He quickly fell into the secular trap of self-centeredness, self-gratification, and outright depravity. He even joined a band of criminals that preyed on people traveling up into the mountains. Peter was so good at this work he eventually became the gang leader.

Two years after Peter left home, his dad  was asked by King Jaime of Aragon to lead him on a journey to Montpellier so he might meet with the King of France. King Jaime had heard of the brigands that preyed on mountain travelers and knew that Arnold would be the one who would keep them safe.

As Arnold Armengol led the King’s entourage through the mountain passes they were attacked by a band of highwayman. As the robbers charged toward them. Armengol led his men in a counter attack. With his sword drawn he headed directly for the leader of the pack. They were about to engage each other when the brigand fell to his knees. He had recognized his father and with tears streaming down his face, prostrated himself at his feet . Surrendering his sword, he begged his father for forgiveness. The constant praying of Peter’s father for his boy were about to be answered in an amazing way.

Peter Armengol, repentant and seeking mercy, was filled with shame.  He appealed to King James I for a second chance. Standing before the King with his dad at his side the King granted young Peter a pardon. Shortly thereafter, heeding the graces offered to him by God, he entered a Mercedarian Monastery in Barcelona. Soon after, Peter Armengol became known as Friar Peter.

St. Peter Armengol by Vincent Carducho  (17 century)
The mission of the Mercedarians, (The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy) founded by St. Peter Nolasco, was to ransom Catholics taken hostage. Peter excelled at this task and, over a period of eight years, managed to negotiate the freedom of many hostages from the Saracens. . (The Mercedarians take a fourth vow. Besides poverty, chastity and obedience they also vow to always be ready to exchange their own lives to free a hostage).   

Friar Peter then headed to Africa with Friar William Florentino. His goal was to  ransom Christians from the Moors. On arrival in a place called Bugia, he heard about 18 Christian children being held hostage. They were under the threat of death if they did not renounce Christianity. Friar Peter offered himself in exchange for the hostages. The captors agreed but warned Peter that if the ransom was not paid on time he would suffer brutal torture and death.

The arrival of the agreed ransom and Friar Peter’s release were scheduled for a certain day. The ransom never arrived. Peter was immediately put to torture and endured this for days on end. The Moors, tired of Friar Peter being alive, accused him of blaspheming Mohammad. He was sentenced to be hanged.

Friar Peter was hanged from a tree. His body was left there for the birds of prey to feed on. Six days later Friar William arrived with the ransom. The Moors refused it and told Friar William that Peter was already dead for six days and his rotted corpse was still hanging from the tree. Distraught, William went to recover his brother Mercedarian’s body.

William left and headed to the execution site. As he approached he noticed that Peter’s body seemed to be intact. In fact, there was a fragrance of flowers in the air. William slowly approached the body of Peter. The man who was supposedly dead for six days began to speak. He explained how the Blessed Virgin had come to him and was holding  him up with her precious hands so his body would not hang on the rope.

Peter Armengol, when recalling the miracle of his hanging, told his Mercedarian brothers that the happiest days of his life were those six days that he hung from the gallows supported by the Blessed Virgin Mary. Peter’s neck, broken from the hanging, remained in a twisted position for the rest of his life and he always had a sickly complexion. Seven documented miracles were attributed to him while he was still alive.

Peter Armengol was canonized a saint on April 8, 1687 by Pope Innocent XI. On this Father's Day we might also remember how his dad, Arnold Armengol, prayed unceasingly for the safe return of his son. His prayers were surely answered,  a lesson for us all.

*An edited version of this article also appeared in Aleteia on June 16, 2016

                             ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

July 6, 2016

The "Protector" Saint of the Mexican Border*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

Sometime during the early summer of 1973, Jesus Gaytan and two friends began making their way north to the United States. They were planning to ‘”sneak” across the border and find work as farmhands. They did not care where, they just wanted to work.

At the border their plans quickly unraveled. They were spotted by the Border Patrol and, frightened, ran back toward Mexico. Jesus became separated from his friends and began wandering around the desert. He had no idea where he was. After several days of walking and wandering and without any food or water left, Jesus was sure he would die.

As he stared across the bleak landscape peering through the undulating heat waves rising from the ground, he saw a pickup truck coming his way. Not knowing who was approaching, he became instantly afraid and yet also relieved. The truck pulled up and a young man with light skin and blue eyes stepped out. He smiled and gave Jesus food and water. Then he directed him to a nearby farm where they needed workers. He also gave Jesus a few dollars to keep in his pocket. Jesus thanked him profusely and asked him where he could return the money to him.

Speaking perfect Spanish the man said to him, “When you finally get a job and money, look for me in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco. Ask for Toribio Romo.”

And so the story goes that years later Jesus Gaytan did make that trip to Santa Ana de Gaudalupe. When he arrived he asked how he could find Toribio Romo. He was directed to the small church nearby. Hanging on the outside of the chapel was a large picture. Jesus stared wide-eyed looking up at the picture. It was the man from the desert, Toribio Romo.

Jesus had arrived at Toribio’s shrine where his remains were kept. He was shocked to learn that the man who had helped him in the desert 20 years before had been beatified in 1992 by Pope John Paul II. He was doubly shocked that his rescuer had been murdered in 1928 during the Cristero War.  Jesus Gaytan realized he had been saved by a man sent from heaven.

Luciano Lopez tells of being on his way to Colorado to find work when he got lost in the encapsulating heat of the Arizona desert. Luciano tells of seeing a “shadowy” figure standing next to what appeared to be an ocean. Luciano told how the person waved him to him and how he began walking. He was led right to a rest-stop with food and water and he was saved. When he told his wife back in Mexico she said, “It was St. Toribio, the migrant-smuggling saint, leading you to safety. I have been praying to him for your well-being.”

Toribio Romo was born on April 16, 1900 in Santa Ana de Guadalupe, Jalisco, Mexico. He was, with permission from the bishop, ordained a priest at the young age of 22. His age did not matter to the authorities. The anti-religious Constitution of Mexico had been enacted in 1917. Toribio may have been only 22 but he was immediately placed under watch by the government. Then along came the fateful year of 1927. That was the year that the Catholic hating president of Mexico, Plutarco Ellas Cartes, ordered his soldiers to strictly enforce the anti-religious Constitution of 1917.

Besides saying Mass “under the radar” and making sick calls and hearing confessions, Father Toribio had also been teaching catechism to both children and adults. Now he was told to confine himself to his residence and to not say the Rosary in public or offer Mass. The young priest took up refuge in an old factory near a town called Agua Caliente. Here he defied the secular authority and celebrated Mass and tended to his ministry the best he could.

On February 22, 1928,  Father Toribio, began organizing his parish registry. He finished doing that on February 24. Father Toribio knew the danger he was in and he was afraid. He prayed daily for God’s grace and strength but would not let his fears stop him from doing his work. It was 4: 00 am on February 25 when the young priest climbed into his bed to get some sleep.

An hour later government troops stormed the place and broke into the priest’s bedroom. One soldier shouted, “I have found the priest. Kill him!”

Father Toribio said, “Here I am but you do not have to kill me.”

The soldiers did not care. One soldier fired and the wounded priest stood up and began to walk toward the soldiers. After a few steps they opened fire and Father Toribio Romo fell dead. The story of the young priest’s martyrdom spread quickly and his popularity soared. Many Mexicans who have headed north tell inspiring stories about how their lives were saved through the intervention of Father Toribio.

In 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized Father Toribio and 24 other martyrs murdered for their faith during the Cristero War. Today, Santo Toribio Romo, is honored as the Patron Saint of Mexican migrants and “border crossers”. He is a saint who all Mexican and American Catholics should pray to for help with the border crisis confronting us today.

Saint Toribio Romo, pray for us.

*This article appeared in Aleteia in June of 2016


                                   ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

June 30, 2016

Meet the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart*

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

*An edited version of this article appeared in Aleteia on June 3, 2016

Every year, exactly 19 days after Pentecost, the Catholic Church  celebrates the Devotion of the Sacred Heart of Jesus . It is a worldwide devotion and is always on a Friday. This year it will be celebrated on June 3. Stressing the profound relevance of this feast, Pope Benedict XVI said on June 5, 2007;
 "In the Heart of the Redeemer we adore God's love for humanity, His will for universal salvation, His infinite mercy. Practising devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ therefore means adoring that Heart which, after having loved us to the end, was pierced by a spear and from high on the Cross poured out blood and water, an inexhaustible source of new life."

I have mentioned that this is a worldwide Catholic feast day our Pope Emeritus, has spoken to its importance. This caused me to wonder why so many Catholics around the world (including  those in the United States) have never heard about the man from Mexico whose name was Jose Maria Robles Hurtado .

St. Jose Robles Hurtado; "Madman of the Sacred Heart"

Jose Robles Hurtado was 25 years old when he was ordained to the priesthood. The year was 1913. He loved his priestly calling and, being a gifted writer, immediately began writing essays and lessons to teach and propagate the faith. He had such love of  Christ in the Eucharist that within two years of his ordination he founded an order of religious called the  Congregation of the Victims of the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. But his love for his Lord was also being noticed by the authorities. Father Hurtado was already going against the new laws being enacted in Mexico.

The young priest was so devoted to the Sacred Heart that his fervor for this devotion became known far and wide. He even became known as the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart. But that was in Mexico. It was also during the intense anti-religious era of Catholic/Christian persecution that was beginning to rear its demonic head in the country. Evil finally became the rule of law when in 1917 the anti-religious Constitution of Mexico was enacted.

The new constitution prohibited public professions of faith, public processions and most devotional practices "outside" of church. (Have we heard this narrative advanced in our country?) Father Hurtado promptly proposed a project where a huge cross would be placed somewhere in the center of Mexico to honor Christ as the true King of Mexico. He was now in direct violation of the law.

The plans for the project began  to come together as Father Hurtado led the  movement to erect the giant cross. Signs were distributed throughout Mexico declaring Christ as the King of Mexico. These signs also proclaimed the nation's devotion to the Sacred Heart. Word spread quickly throughout the country and a public ceremony was scheduled for the laying of the project's cornerstone.  Government leaders were furious.

In 1923 over 40, 000 Roman catholics headed to a spot in central Mexico called "La Loma" (the hill). The groundbreaking took place and the government decided it was time to intensify the "law". Persecution of Catholics intensified and Father Robles Hurtado was singled out for intense scrutiny to make sure he stopped his "anti-government" practices.

Father Hurtado, despite demands by the government that he leave the country, continued his ministry, offering Mass, hearing confessions for hours at a time, visiting the poor and the sick, performing baptisms, anointing the dying  and teaching the children.the faith. Then came 1924 and a new president. His name was Plutarco Elias Calles and he held a fierce hatred of Roman Catholics.

Presidente Calles was determined to stop all religious practices within Mexico. He ordered the Constitution of 1917 to be strictly enforced and the result was one of the bloodiest episodes in Mexican history. From 1927 through 1929 the Cristero War ravaged Mexico and Father Jose Robles Hurtado was destined to be one of its victims.

As has been proven throughout history, when certain people gain power that power can become an evil aphrodisiac. Hiding behind "laws" enacted to help them attain their goals of domination, they can kill with a reckless, oftentime vicious, abandon. The evil at work in Mexico was not about to ignore the young priest.

On June 25, 1927, while leading a family in prayer at their home, soldiers broke into the house and arrested Father Hurtado for "violating the law". He was immediately found guilty and sentenced to be hanged. In this world there would be no appeals.

The next morning, before dawn, Father Jose Maria Robles Hurtado, age 39, was led out to a nearby oak tree. The priest, facing his immediate death, offered an understanding and compassion for his executioners. He  forgave them and insisted that he be allowed to place the noose around his own neck. This way none of the men there would have to feel guilty about what was happening. He was handed the noose, kissed it, and slid it over his head. Then he went to meet his beloved Sacred Heart.
Several of the executioners openly wept.

Father Jose Robles Hurtado, the "Madman" of the Sacred Heart. was canonized a saint by Pope St. John Paul II on May 21, 2000.

                                     ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

June 18, 2016

Pope Francis--The Foremost Ambassador of Humility

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson                                      

 This is from the Gospel of Luke; Chapter 9: vs 46-50
An argument arose among the disciples about which of them was the greatest.
Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child and placed it by his side and said to them, "Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.  For the one who is least among all of you is the one who is greatest."

This gospel reading is all about the greatest of all the 'deadly' sins, Pride. It is also about the greatest of all 'heavenly' virtues, Humility. This is a "clash of the titans" of Evil vs Good. And it makes me think about Pope Francis with his innocent smile and his natural affinity to children and the disabled and downtrodden. It makes me realize that the most famous man on the planet is also the most humble.

 Pope Francis, without trying and by just being who God made him to be, wears this mantle of humility without fanfare, showmanship, pretentiousness or anything that might be self-serving in any manner.
Pope Francis

Yes, he wears that mantle and it is always fastened to his shoulders with the clasp of Love. In so doing he shows the whole world what it means to think of yourself last before all others. (Don’t you love the black shoes he wears)?

Jorge Mario Bergoglio never asked to be a bishop or a cardinal. He never "lobbied" for these positions or sought them out in any way. He did not have "super-pacs" at his beckoned call when the vacancy for Pope opened. He simply loved being a priest, working with the poor and homeless and doing his best to follow God's call so he would make his life pleasing to Him.

Make no mistake, God called him to the papacy. The secular world mocks that concept but that is why they cannot experience the joy the faithful experience when he visits other countries and millions of these folks turn out to see him, waving and singing and even crying as he goes by. If they could only swallow their damn pride a bit and open their hearts they may find the elusive peace that evades them.

Pope Francis is the successor to St. Peter. He is filled with the Holy Spirit. That Spirit leads him to stop his motorcade and wade into a crowd of children and hug them and kiss their foreheads. It compels him to embrace the crippled, the disfigured, the mentally challenged, the homeless as well as the "uppity-ups". He has no qualms about walking into a prison and embracing hard-core murderers, rapists, thieves, and drug dealers.

During his stop in Washington, D.C. last year, the Pope visited with President Obama and then, after offering Mass in the Cathedral, made a point of going to the offices of the Little Sisters of the Poor. He was sending a message to the entire world about the solidarity that exists within the Church when it comes to respect for life, ALL life.

That message required no words---just action. The Pope gave that message by meeting with the Sisters who take care of the elderly poor, free of charge and have been doing so since St. Jeanne Jugan founded the order back in 1841. The fact that the Holy Father had just visited with the President of the United States surrounded by the opulence attached to the visit and then, after being cheered by millions as he headed to the Cathedral, mattered not. His smile was broadest while he spent his short time with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Pope Francis leaves every country he visits a more contented and inspired nation. He reaches out to everyone and many respond. And the reason is so basic; he represents the Goodness and Love that Jesus Christ brings to us. He is His ambassador on earth. He does his work well. But, as is the way of things, after he leaves a place, the pride that consumes humankind comes back and makes itself known again. The good news is, after a Papal Visit, pride has fewer followers.

Thank you Holy Father, for the grace, inspiration, love and example you give us. Hopefully we can get you back to America soon. Our country could use a booster shot of humility, especially in the political arena.



                                         ©Larry Peterson 2016  All Rights Reserved

June 12, 2016

The Catholic Church—Saying “NO” to a World Screaming “YES”

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

How did the precepts of ethics and morality, based on the Ten Commandments and the "Golden Rule", become a pariah to so many? How did these principles ever become inverted?  Why have they seemingly been tossed by many into the dumpster of the outdated and irrelevant?

There is one critical aspect that drives this onslaught and I think we do not pay close enough attention to it. Those that are flailing away at our religious heritage and freedoms are not committing these attacks on their own. They have a brilliant, diabolical, hate-consumed leader inspiring them onward.

Their leader's name is Satan and he is the Master of deceit and deception. Satan's biggest and most hated enemy after Jesus Christ is the church that Jesus founded, the Catholic Church. Satan’s hatred for the true Church of Christ is unimaginable. That is because it still spits in his evil eye and says NO!

Over the centuries it has withstood his evil onslaughts even when they came from within. It also rejects today’s “liberation theology”, the perverse philosophy that suggests “Jesus wants you to be happy so just enjoy yourself.” The fact is, Jesus wants us to be happy with him in heaven. This is the testing grounds where we can earn the “right’ to join Him there—not decide what that “right” is.

 The Church has teachings that have been in place for two thousand years. But secularists maintain that the Church has "nerve and audacity" to use the words, SIN and MORALITY.  In today's self-indulged, secular world it seems anyone who might suggest that a particular behavior is "immoral" or "sinful" is branded and vilified as intolerant, hateful, racist and even uncaring.

 How pompous and pride filled this is. Only the new age secularists would have the audacity to suggest that their inverted "virtue" is GOOD and the concept of self-denial is SINFUL.

My favorite comic book character was, Superman. Occasionally, Superman would get stuck in an alternative universe called "Bizarro World". It was a place where everything was backwards. Up was down, hello meant good-bye and yes meant no. Even the planet, Htrae, (Earth backwards), was shaped like a cube. It is the same with the folly of inverted secular virtue. I call this world "Secularro".

On Secularro killing is "Good" and if you stand against it you are bad. For instance, take abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and partial-birth abortion. The church says NO! On Secularro the Church is now bad. Fornication and people "hooking up" for one-night stands is heralded as "Good". The church says NO!  On Secularro the church is told to mind its own business. Divorced and remarried Catholics want to receive the Holy Eucharist. The church, as it always has done, says NO!

On Secularro, the church is deemed intolerant and insensitive and is out of touch with the modern world and needs to get into the 21st century. Homosexuals demand to be married in the Church. The Church says NO!  Marriage is between a man and a woman ONLY. Satan screams from his evil world to his followers, Say “YES! YES! YES!" Holy Mother Church says “NO!” In the alternative universe, the Catholic Church is evil.

On Secularro the inverted unwittingly listen to Satan’s message and pound on the dogmatic doors of the Catholic Church demanding that they be opened to personal wants and desires. Unlike Bizarro World where things are just 'crazy' on Secularro, things are mean and vindictive. Secularro is ruled by hate. Satan is Hate.

There are other Christian denominations that have succumbed to outside pressures and reworked their "teachings" to accommodate the demands from Secularro. They have been praised as "progressive" and "in touch" with the needs of the citizens of Secularro. The reality is, they have failed their followers. But the Catholic Church has not caved into the demands and pressures and it never will. Therefore, Satan hates all things Catholic and always will.

The Catholic Church still teaches that there are Seven Deadly Sins. They are pride, greed,  lust, anger, gluttony, envy and sloth aka laziness. Note the key word in describing these sins is the word "deadly". The Church teaches that these sins can destroy the soul of anyone who might indulge these human appetites. The church also offers forgiveness for falling prey to these sins. This forgiveness is available 24/7.

On Secularro, the church is mocked and laughed at for suggesting these actions offend God. These acts are acceptable because an individual committing one of these sins is just being human and God made us that way and wants us to be "happy". So--sin away. Just remember, if you subscribe to that concept the victory in the fight for your soul goes to Satan.

It is time to start looking hard at the Bible. And we might start by going to St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians. Chapter 6: 16-17.

In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield,
To quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit,
which is the word of God.

                                 
                                        ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

June 4, 2016

Missing From the 2016 Presidential Campaign—any Mention of God & Religion

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

There is an old cliche which says, "One thing you should never argue or discuss is politics or religion."

One thing is for sure, when it comes to politics and politicians no one is mentioning anything about religion. They leave the 'religion' out and argue 'politics'. They not only argue with each other they debase, defame, denigrate, disparage and verbally abuse each other relentlessly and with a no-holds, reckless abandon that is disgraceful but apparently acceptable because, "that's politics". On the other hand, they will rarely, if ever, mention God or religion.

 According to all of the latest polls, the items  of prime importance to the American voter in 2016 are: a)  the economy; b)  jobs; c) immigration and d)  terrorism. Unbelievably (to me) there is little mention about the incessant attacks and rulings against our religious freedom(s). How can this be?

I am fascinated by these polling results not so much for what they say and/or predict but for what they avoid. They completely seem to ignore the religious backdrop of the American story. Religious freedom is the cornerstone of our success. W must stop making believe it is insignificant.

These religious freedoms are the foundation for an ever expanding and vibrant economy. These freedoms are the fertilizer that helps grow jobs.These freedoms are so envied that people from all over the world continually want to come here. Yes, the fact is, Freedom of Religion is the very lynchpin that has held us together throughout our 240 year history.

                                                                                                     






But now I am afraid. I am afraid because the insidious, intentional eroding of the foundation of our nation is being completely ignored. We are witnessing the weight of a secular self-centeredness that is not only methodically erasing  God's presence in our country but, along with God, the religious tenets (also called Natural Law) used as building blocks by our Founding Fathers.

  When people have the freedom to worship God unencumbered and without reservation, it frees up their spirit. They embrace this great gift and it results in personal growth and fulfillment. The United States of America proved to be the greatest nation in history because of an individual's freedom to be who they would be.

 Over the course of our American history there have been numerous Freedom of Religion cases that have impacted our nation. However, over the last  decade, the anti-religion, anti-God rhetoric has seemingly taken a secure foothold in the battle against the"Creator who has endowed us ALL with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". And yes, in the very first paragraph of the Declaration of Independence the name of GOD is actually used. He is NOT anathema to the United States of America.

It seems to me that we must stand up and fight back in defense of God and religion. Being a "none" is NOT a religion. being an atheist is NOT a religion and being a Satanist is NOT a religion. Religion is the means we use to worship God and we are free to do so. Religion does NOT define NOT worshiping God.

There is even an organization called the Freedom from Religion Foundation FFRF. Can someone explain to me how, in a country that proclaims Freedom of Religion as a fundamental right, a group can be legalized and can sue folks for expressing that freedom?   The Freedom From Religion Foundation is the antithesis of our primary, fundamental Constitutional right. It is even a functioning and approved non-profit 501(c)3 active in all 50 states. Does this make any sense at all? How can an entity whose primary purpose is to attack our First Amendment be legally sanctioned to do so?

Not worshiping or believing in God is our choice as Americans. Those of you who have chosen that route  have been blessed with this privilege. Many have died to secure this Freedom for you. Why, if you can non-worship the way you so choose, do you want to prevent others from worshipping as they choose? Why would the name of Jesus Christ, a simple carpenter who preached love and forgiveness, be offensive to anyone? Whatever is your self-absorbed, hateful motivation to attack the very freedom(s) that protect you? What are you so afraid of?

                                ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

May 27, 2016

RE: Gender Equality; Is Their Any Info Available on Gender Differences?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson


 With the furor raging over the question of gender equality (identity), it might be time for EVERYONE to visit  St. John Paul II's, Apostolic Letter regarding the dignity of women, Mulieris Dignitatem . 

The crusade for complete equality has taken a seriously convoluted turn.  Here (in my opinion) are the irrefutable facts in the order as I see them:  1)Man and Woman are both human beings;  2)Man and Woman are unique unto their own sex;  3)Man and Woman complement each other;  4)Man and Woman can form a bond with each other which allows them to be able to unite together  as one couple;  this natural, complimentary bond completes the Human equation;  5) the answer to the human equation is New Life.

Therefore  it follows that;  Man and Woman NEED each other; Man and Woman need to respect each other for their uniqueness which allows them to ‘complete ‘ each other ; and finally, Man and Woman will cease to exist without each other.  

This concept is generally mocked in a secular driven world. Therefore I am posting the message below from St John Paul II. 




From  Mulieris Dignitatem (1988), no. 18
"Parenthood - even though it belongs to both  man and woman - is realised much more fully in the woman, especially in the prenatal period. It is the woman who 'pays' directly for this shared generation, which literally absorbs the energies of her body and soul. It is therefore necessary that the man be fully aware that in their shared programme of parenthood he owes a special debt to the woman."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
   
And I shall add a quote from Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen :
“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Final thought from me: Is their any information available about Gender Differences?

                                        ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

May 25, 2016

Reality Check: Does Having Judeo-Christian Values Make You a Candidate for Genocide?

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

The words--annihilation, extermination, carnage, and slaughter, to name a few, are synonyms for the word "Holocaust". The word "genocide"not invented until 1941, fits right in there. But none of those words bring us to the core of what those words truly represent. They are the by-product of the malevolent, hideous, and hate filled evil that consumes and takes control of certain human beings.

During the 20th century, seven periods of genocide  took place. Beginning with the  Armenian Genocide of  1915-1918, moving  to the Holocaust of 1938 -1945, seeing the horrors of Rwanda in 1995 and jumping forward to today's worldwide daily carnage, what has changed? Not a damn thing.

The pages of history are filled with countless numbers of people who have seen fit to perform evil, vicious acts against those of their own kind. It defies logic, common sense, and so many other traits that are part of the human condition. Supposedly "good" people, upstanding citizens, if empowered and able to hide behind a mantra of legality, turn on their own kind and subject them to the most incredulous pain and suffering they can conjure up. How many Nazi war criminals used the excuse of "just following orders" to justify their actions?

But we lose a sense of the horror when we talk about the "millions" of innocents annihilated. We somehow need to look at individual people to grasp a sense of what did  happen and is happening up and including this very day. In fact, history proves that the our humanity is tied together with our ancestors, those part of our present and those that will follow us in the future.

In early April I wrote about the only nun ever sentenced to death by a Nazi court. Her name was Sister Maria Restituta (now Blessed Maria). Blessed Maria's "crime" was  that she refused to remove Crucifixes from hospital bedrooms. I would now like to mention the very first priest to die in a Nazi concentration camp. Just like Blessed Maria he was also born in Austria. His name was Otto Neururer.

Father Neururer was a parish priest and a young woman came to him seeking advice. She wanted to know whether or not she should marry a divorced man. The man had a shady past and Father Otto advised her against the marriage. She told this man what Father had told her and he promptly went to his friend who was a high ranking Nazi official in the area. Father Neururer was arrested for "slander to the detriment of German marriage" and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp. From Dachau he was sent to  Buchenwald which was under the command of Martin Sommer aka "The Hangman of Buchenwald".

While at Buchenwald, Father Neururer performed a "forbidden" Baptism. He was caught, sent to the punishment block and Martin Sommer decided to have him hung upside down. Father Neururer was left that way until he died 36 hours later. He was 58 years old and was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1996.

Demonstrating the connection from yesterday to today and onward to tomorrow let us jump ahead to  April 7, 2014. The place is Homs, Syria. Creatures of habit, most of us more than likely went through our usual daily routine of showering, brushing our teeth, having coffee, getting dressed and doing the things we usually do in whatever order we do them which is unique to each of us as individuals.

And then there were those that did not have an ordinary kind of day. One of them was Father Frans Van der Lugt a 75 year old Jesuit who had spent 50 years in Syria helping the poor and needy. This day would be his last.    

On Monday morning, April 7, masked assailants stormed into the monastery where Father Frans was tending to the remaining few dozen Christians left in Homs, (down from the 60,000 a few years earlier). These ISIS cowards dragged the 75 year old priest from the church, beat him mercilessly and then shot him in the head, killing him.

Father Fran's crime was for being a Catholic priest and serving Jesus and loving his neighbor. What was Father Otto's crime 70 years earlier? He was a Catholic priest serving Jesus and loving his neighbors. And dear Blessed Maria, she was just a Catholic nun and a nurse who loved Jesus and was beheaded for refusing to remove a Crucifix from a hospital wall.

To tie the entire century together lets not forget the Armenian Martyrs of 1915 thru 1918. Being part of the Judeo-Christian world means we must always be prepared and always be ready to stand up for God and Jesus and Goodness. Not one of those mentioned and the millions of their  murdered brethren ever thought  a day like that would come their way. Were they all ready to die for their faith? Would you or I be ready? Maybe it is time for ALL of us to think about that.

                                 ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved

May 23, 2016

3 Saints Who Never Knew the Impact They Would Have on Others -

IT MAKES SENSE TO ME

By Larry Peterson

This article appeared in Aleteia on May 18, 2016

St. Vincent de Paul, Blessed Frederick Ozanam, St. Jeanne Jugan
Saint-Servan, France,1839:  On a bitterly cold winter night,  Jeanne Jugan , 47, looked out from her bedroom window and saw a person huddled outside. She went out and somehow managed to carry the shivering woman into her own home and place her in her own bed.

The woman's name was Anne Chauvin and she was blind, paralyzed and quite old. She was also close to freezing to death. And so it began, for on that very night Jeanne Jugan turned her life to serving God by caring for the elderly poor. 

Word spread quickly throughout the small town and before long more elderly sick and poor were being brought to Jeanne. Other women, younger and healthier, were coming to her also. But they were coming to join her in her work. The small group of women grew and became known as  The Little Sisters of the Poor

By 1879, there were over 2400 Little Sisters of the Poor in nine countries. That year was also the year that Pope Leo XIII approved the by-laws of the order. Ironically, it was also the same year Jeanne Jugan died at the age of 86. She was canonized a saint on October 11, 2009 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Saint Jeanne Jugan never knew that when she was founding the Little Sisters of the Poor a young countryman of hers in Paris was responding to God’s flowing graces. Frederick Ozanam was a 20 year old student at the University of Paris. Challenged by his "enlightened" college peers, he embraced their taunts "to practice what you preach".  

Accepting the challenge, Frederick went out and gave his coat to a beggar.  Shortly thereafter,  he and his four pals founded the St. Vincent de Paul Society . That was in May of 1833.  They named the society after St.Vincent because he was known for his work with the poor.

Vincent de Paul never knew that 170 years after his death an organization named after him would take up the mantle of helping the poor all over the world. Frederick Ozanam died at the age of 40 and was beatified and declared 'Blessed' by Pope John Paul II in 1997. Frederick  would never know that the organization he had founded would one day work side by side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their mission of charity toward the elderly poor.

 St. Jeanne Jugan could never have known that from the moment she carried Anne Chauvin into her home she would change the world for thousands upon thousands of the sick and disabled elderly. She could never have imagined that in the 21st century her order would be serving the poorest of the elderly in cities all over the United States and in 31 countries around the world.

 Blessed Frederick would never have imagined that his Society of St. Vincent de Paul would become a worldwide organization with close to a million members helping the needy all over the world. The grand irony is that over the course of several centuries the paths of these three saints have been interwoven dramatically as their followers help the poor, homeless and downtrodden no matter where they may be.

The three saints mentioned here never knew what their simple acts of kindness would lead to. The difference with them was that, unlike most folks, they responded to God's grace. Jeanne took care of that sickly woman and Fred gave away his coat. Vincent worked with poor tenant farmers and founded the Daughters of Charity.

These three unpretentious, God loving people had two things in common.  First, they embraced God's grace and followed His call. Secondly, they asked for NOTHING for themselves and welcomed whatever came their way, including poverty. Their legacies live on in the thousands upon thousands of their followers and in all those millions who have been helped by their simple acts of faith. This is a beautiful thing.

 As a Catholic I love these people and I am proud to consider myself part of their extended family. They set examples for us that we are supposed to emulate. They are our Catholic heroes and therefore members of our Catholic Hall of Fame. They asked for nothing and gave everything. I love being able to talk to them. What I love best is when they talk back. And they do, sooner or later and one way or another.

 St. Vincent de Paul, St. Jeanne Jugan and Blessed Frederick Ozanam, please keep praying for all of us. And ---THANK YOU.


                            ©Larry Peterson 2016 All Rights Reserved